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11/26/2013 | 4:20:58 PM
Re: Customer perceptions
You are correct, Dan.  There is a large negative halo effect from the residential side that has made gaining credibility with businesses that much tougher.  

However, their service has been improving in an industry where the major competition does not deliver a good experience.  Also, in their favor is that they have made significant penetration in the SMB market that is helping them improve their reputation and shake that stigma.  Peer recommendations (e.g. word of mouth) are still one of the most important decision influencers in the commercial telecom space so by actually delivering against these rising customer expectations they will become more closely associated with this important experience attribute, change perceptions and create differentiation.

The other important factor is the performance of the residential side.  Depending on the cable co they typically serve 60% or more of the consumer market and this market is made up of business owners, IT decision makers and influencers, etc.  The residential side created this negative halo and their ability to change experience perceptions on this front will be critical to the commercial side's ability to gain credibility.  Some cable cos have launched sub brands or are rebranding around new product and/or services in part as a way to reinvent themselves around experience while steering clear of old negative perceptions associated with their legacy brand.
11/24/2013 | 10:49:55 AM
Customer perceptions
Even if the cable TV companies are making strides in changing their DNA, the tougher job might be actually changing customer perceptions. Bad cable service is something everyone still likes to complain about, even if it is in fact getting incrementally better.
11/22/2013 | 1:58:41 PM
Re: Who's doing it?
Thanks, Alan.  Given the bad customer experience stigma attached to cable cos as a whole they have some challenging work in front of them.  Especially since customer expectations are continuing to rise.

The good news is the last couple of years we have seen more attention to this area from cable cos.  Changes are being made not just in customer care groups but in sales, marketing and product functions as well.  There is now more messaging around shorter install times, more customer friendly appointment scheduling, one bill for all your services, etc.  On the back-end customer service centers are adding tools and training that enable reps to better serve their customers.  Installation processes are being redesigned to light up services quicker. We expect to see more of these types of changes as cable cos realize the positive financial impacts they create.

Cox in particular has been making noticeable strides to deliver a better experience and the results are showing not only in revenue numbers but in satisfaction studies like the JDPA U.S. Business Wireline Satisfaction Study; where they are typically at the top.  They have been out in front of this for a while and have been very public about how integral "delivering a better customer experience" is to their commercial services strategy.  

Incidentally, Phil Meeks, former SVP of Cox, is now COO of TWCBC.  I am certain his expertise in this area was not lost on TWCBC when they decided to bring him on board and I would look for them to really accelerate their efforts on this front.  


11/21/2013 | 10:26:56 PM
Who's doing it?
Provocative column, Will. So I'm wondering what you're seeing cable companies doing in the market right now in response to these shifts. Can you point to any examples of cable cos actually changing their DNAs? They would make great case studies.

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